Chapter 106 Old Vallis

Garghent was not governed by fools and nor were they incapable of matching Deo’s strategies and responding to them accurately and effectively. The lightning invasion worked successfully because Garghent had not tried to stop it. The military and Specter prowess of Garghent was sufficiently adequate to halt even the biggest of invasions from Deo’s army. Fighting Deo was not their current priority. Garghent was open about this and so Deo knew this to be true.

Garghent had their eyes and fortune set on Vallis. The expansion of their growing territory approached the ruins of Vallis, staking claim to the largest metropolis on the Sister continent. Garghent’s military and merchant factions were being used to intimidate the other city states who would challenge Garghent’s recolonization of Vallis. Despite the ramifications of Garghent’s continued expansionism, no other city-state was in a position to halt them. And so Garghent funneled soldiers, builders, citizens and money into the enterprise of Vallis.

The issue of Deo’s evacuation of Vallis and the subsequent razing of the city was thought to place a time and resource barrier in restoring Vallis to a fully functional city. It would take years to rebuild the factories and mills and the housing and infrastructure necessary in maintaining a large population. Growth predictions were slow and the overall outlook of reconstruction was computed to be highly expensive, an exorbitant waste of resources and too risky to pull off given the looming threat of wars hanging over the continent. Any city-state bold enough to try rebuilding Vallis would expose themselves at the same time as crippling their economy for decades, only seeing marginal returns on the city over several generations and that was assuming Vallis could be restored enough to yield at levels anywhere near its original gross domestic product.

The social and economic climate between the city-states made the investment of Vallis a foolish project and one that was seen to only ensure the crippling of the city that tried it. Naturally, given all the optics on the situation, no metropolis made any real efforts to stop Garghent.

For Garghent’s part, Vallis would normally have been a pet project to work on slowly over many years if it were not for two very important solutions they had to the obvious problems.

The first was their diversity of Specters. Garghent had in its employ, a wide range of abilities to utilize for the rebuilding of Vallis. Most notably was their General of the Siege division, Garald, the Babel Aspect.

Garald worked with a team of expert engineers to travel through the old necropolis under Vallis, the old city that had been built over by the modern Vallis. Garald used his Babel Aspect to move large amounts of terrain at a time, even bringing up entire buildings from underground, fully intact and needing only to be restored and refurbished with modern utilities. Garald used his Babel mallet tirelessly with the engineers to select the best surviving sections of old Vallis to bring to the surface in towers of precise and calculated feats of excavation. This alone created a working sprawl that could readily be occupied for workers to continue the reconstruction process. What would have taken decades to do, was done by Garald in mere weeks. The old stone architecture of the previous and more medieval Vallis was perhaps not ideal for those used to living in modern housing, but the stone stood the test of time and would be livable and safe. Karnev, the Palisade Aspect, helped to rebuild segments of destroyed and crumbled walls with his ability to raise the ground into a mound of clay wall. It would suffice until proper walls could be rebuilt.

Garghent employed many other Aspects and tens of thousands of its soldiers for labor in order to speed the process of restoration. This factor was foremost in their lackluster defense in the war with Deo up to that point. They were being used for something else. The rebuilding of a city.

Like a chapter of history coming to life, Vallis had abandoned over five hundred years of modernity in order to have a working city by using the old ruins of the necropolis.

This was helpful but the more important solution was their second one. Vallis was still empty and Garghent’s own citizens had little reason to move back in time to start their lives over. The problem was solved by Garghent’s merchant faction, by throwing money at the problem. 

Many in the aristocracy dug into their coffers to support this enterprise, fronted by the leading Gentlemans of Garghent. 

They put together an Act which applied to any citizen from any city-state, save for Ophir of course, that offered to pay handsomely for families to move into Vallis. It was Garghent’s plan to pay out of pocket to jumpstart the population of Old Vallis, as it became known, by enticing citizens from around the continent to immigrate into the city. Those with skills in plumbing, electrical, carpentry, farming, and any sort of vocational or maintenance experience and certifications were paid in bonuses. Citizenship was included for those who came to Vallis under that Act as Garghent subtly expanded its border by slowly unifying its territories to create a single governance and citizenship of Daedal, Old Vallis and Bast. 

This not only undercut poor and exploited citizens of other metropoli, but it displayed the potency of influence that Garghent could exert on its neighbors, by presenting itself as a place to build wealth and have a fresh start as approval of many city-states dropped for fears of war and incompetence of leaders.

Garghent brought in hundreds of thousands by the middle of the summer with projections well into the millions by the end of the year. The Act functioned on a first come, first serve basis so people were eager to liquidate their assets, pack their belongings and begin the journey to Old Vallis.

A couple governments of city-states banned the exodus of any citizen wishing to claim a spot in Garghent’s venture, citing treason and betrayal with punishment by imprisonment. For the cities that tried this on their citizens, trust and approval of the government tanked into the abysmal. Garghent’s suave business practices and clever psychological operations put many governments in awkward positions of either giving into Garghent’s clear power play or turning its citizens against themselves. 

Despite any negative propaganda towards them, Garghent clearly showed generous altruism that would damn any leader who barred its own citizens from seeking a better life. 

Another purported issue in the reconstruction of Vallis was food supply. As the farms were all but destroyed in the siege, crop and produce imports for the other city-states sank, leading to the inflation of food and general food scarcity. Restoring the vast farms of Vallis was paramount in allowing for the city to be sustainable. With supply issues already affecting many cities, adding a new city on top of that without addressing the provision problem could lead to mass starvation among its new and growing populace.

The biologists and scientists of Garghent guaranteed that the farms would take care of themselves naturally, an issue overlooked by many cities when weighing out the pros and cons of whether to attempt to claim Vallis or not. Everyone assumed the farms would be too difficult to manage after their destruction, along with all the other problems Vallis faced. 

The simplicity of the solution was perhaps why it was so overlooked. The politicians behind the decisions lacked the rudimentary knowledge of basic farming and biology. 

Wildfires, while destroying large portions of foliage and overgrowth, in fact serves a purpose of enriching the soil by redistributing important nutrients and allowing for the ground to resupply its organic and inorganic material that tends to buildup or be drained by over farming. A year after the siege of Vallis and already the ground was healed and many leftover seeds of crops, grass and saplings were growing in the massive farming estates outside the walls of Vallis.

Garghent simply incentivized farmers with the largest bonus to claim a portion of farmland, rebuild it and begin planting the summer crops or else prepare for the fall and winter. 

Old Vallis was effectively restored. What was assumed by Deo to take many years and resources and personnel, defied all expectations due to Garghent’s wealth and efficiency, turning that decades-long process into several months. 

Only a handful weeks had passed since Garriot led the Dragonnade into Garghent’s border and Old Vallis was on course to being an autonomous metropolis extension of Garghent. 

It meant Garghent could pool its military back together, gather its Specters and ready them for war.

In a meeting room, the Generals and Gentlemans of Garghent along with Master Klyle discussed all this and more.

“Vallis breathes once more. The city will build upon itself.” General Draje announced, bony fingers pressed against each other and voice full of phlegm. “Now, to the matter at hand. We can begin this war in earnest. The long war is what Ophir wants. We are able to wipe them from the face of the world, so what is stopping us? Vallis is secure, Bast is submitting to us, the northern metropli are scavengers, waiting to clear our scraps when we lose. Our military might is far superior to Ophir’s legions of the dead, added to which we need to only kill their leader and the war is won. I do not foresee this war exhausting Garghent to the point of crippling us. Everything is in motion and we await only agreement in tactics before mobilizing the troops.” 

Garghent readied its war machine and the dance of battle would begin once more, a tale as old as time, threatening to shake the world to its core… where the god Diamak awaited to ascend as foretold by the Interluder and the Propheteer and there was no Talis Ranis to stop it from happening.

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